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Amistad Staff Study Blog

Dec 08
Sociolinguistic Premises about Teaching for Biliteracy

​From the text, page 5, "Three fundamental sociolinguistic premises capture the complexity of teaching for biliteracy in Spanish and English in the United States and they can be adapted to any two languages used in biliteracy instruction. According to these premises, teaching for biliteracy in the United States is different than teaching for monolingual literacy because of the following:"

  1. Spanish I the United States is a minority language within a majority culture.
  2. Students use all of the languages in their linguistic repertoire to develop literacy.
  3. Spanish and English are governed by distinct linguistic rules and cultural norms.

My question is: As educators, which premise do you think is the greatest challenge while trying to teach for biliteracy in Spanish and English? How so?


For me, it is the first. It...

For me, it is the first.  It is hard for me to work SO HARD to communicate with Hispanic parents when it doesn't SEEM like they are trying to learn English at all.  They are relying on their children who then, effectively, become the parent which creates a difficult situation when, if given the power, most kids would NOT choose to put their learning above their enjoyment.  They aren't mature enough to make mature decisions for their own educational growth but their parents seem to have relinquished the job to them.
Picture Placeholder: Anita Lane
  • Anita Lane
 on 12/10/2013 3:45 PM

For me, #2 is the trickiest...

For me, #2 is the trickiest because determining or unlocking each student's unique mix of knowledge in English or Spanish or a composite is not always easily identifiable. It takes being knowledgable AND sensitive to sort out the clues and helping kiddos help us piece them together to find out what they know and what they need.
Picture Placeholder: Natalie Lahti
  • Natalie Lahti
 on 12/13/2013 9:06 AM

All of the above have been ...

All of the above have been a challenge for me at one time or another.  I find it varies greatly according to the student and their family/social background.  If I have to choose, I guess it would be #2.  I make certain observations when I test my students.  So according to my observations I plan my specially designed instruction using a certain approach.  Once I start working with the student I often find out that two languages are being confused and often the student isn't as familiar as it appears with the second language.  This will sometimes create issues especially if the student appeared to have more English than they really do.  At this point this student often needs more translation and explanation in Spanish to clarify what is being taught.  Then I begin to question was the student really special ed?  Now that's another debate.

Picture Placeholder: Suzanne Curn
  • Suzanne Curn
 on 1/6/2014 8:10 AM